Tuesday night fun cooking! spaghetti with meatballs and marinara sauce

It's been kind of a hectic day. After hurrying the kids to school, I was teaching all morning, then went straight to the school of music to play for some singers. I left with barely enough time to get back to pick up the kids, but alas, upon unlocking my bicycle, I discovered that the back tire was flat. This is at least the third time this has happened in the last month, and I had a flat in December, too. I don't know if all the extra crud on the roads (salt, sand, snowpack) is the problem or if there is something wrong with the wheel, somehow.

It's really aggravating because my bike is really the most reliable way I have of getting around, even in the winter. I won't go when it's pouring rain or when the roads are covered in ice (I learned my lesson about that a few weeks ago when I crashed; those bruises are still healing) or when it's below 10 degrees. Generally, though, I'd rather bundle up for the cold or live with a muddy butt than deal with the expense and hassle of parking or waiting for the bus.

I had to take the bus today, though, but not until after I made frantic calls to the school and then my friend H to see if she could pick up my kids (she said yes and is an angel among us) while I waited for the bus to arrive and then wrestled my bike on the rack in front.

I finally got the kids and got home, and then Daniel got deep into a DIY project which required a trip to the hardware store and Radio Shack (yes, Radio Shack! the one on University Ave hasn't closed down yet...), so we were kind of late getting started with dinner, and there was still homework to be done and piano stuff to practice.  Days like this - when everyone is tired and we are rushed to get something ready to eat, and there is a lot to do and the kids are picking at each other and Stuart won't be home from work until after bedtime - it's so tempting to send them off to get those things done and just make dinner on my own. This evening, I was close, but I didn't give in. I am determined to make this project work. They need to learn how to cook, to share responsibility, and it doesn't matter how busy and tired we all are, we still need to eat.

So together we made marinara sauce and meatballs. Because time was short and the kids had things that needed to get done, I cooked the spaghetti and made a side dish. And you know what? It was fun! The three of us really were able to let go of the pressures of the day and had a good time together. Daniel and Any love having the responsibility of cutting things up. Daniel used the big chef's knife, which made me really nervous, but he did just fine.

This made me really nervous

This made me a little nervous, too
Fresh basil in a cute little colander

Spaghetti, meatballs, marinara, and seared/steamed broccoli on the side

15 minutes ago, after we ate and I washed dishes (for the third time today), I told them to practice/do homework/pick up their stuff from the middle of the floor and instead they started running around like hooligans. So I did the only thing I could think of to stay sane: I poured a glass of wine and sneaked downstairs to start this blog post. I managed a good ten minutes of uninterrupted time before someone came down to complain that he couldn't find his math homework...

Well, you didn't come here to read about my day. Really, this whole thing was a long explanation about why I only have a few photos of Tuesday Night Fun Cooking! for you, because I had my hands full with the actual cooking part this time. Recipes below!

Meatballs (I think this is originally a Mark Bittman recipe):
Mix in a bowl:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2T fresh herbs or 2tsp dried herbs (we used dried oregano but fresh parsley is good)

Form into golf-ball sized balls and bake in a 350-degree oven until the meatballs are done, 20-30 minutes

While the meatballs are baking, make the marinara sauce:

Marinara Sauce (from the Williams-Sonoma Best of Vegetarian cookbook, adapted a bit):

  • In 2T olive oil, sauté one medium onion (chopped), 2 cloves garlic (diced) and 1/4 lb. mushrooms (chopped) until everything is soft
  • Add 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes,  2oz tomato paste (about 1/3 of a small can), 1/3 cup water or dry red wine (we used water), and 1 tsp salt
  • Cook the sauce 10-15 minutes while you prepare the spaghetti according to the package directions
Broccoli side dish (this hardly warrants a recipe, but here you go anyway)
In a thick-bottomed skillet, preferably cast iron, melt 1T butter over med-high heat and scorch about 2 cups broccoli florets for 1-2 minutes, turning once or twice. Add 1/2 tsp salt, a sprinkle of garlic powder, and a few tablespoons water. Take it off the heat and cover with a lid for 3-5 minutes. The broccoli will finish steaming in the pan without getting mushy. Stuart and I really like eating broccoli this way. The kids don't love it, but they'll eat it - certainly an improvement from a few years ago!


Anonymous said…
Looks delicious!

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